COVE BLOWN AWAY AS ELGIN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POOR WEATHER AND PITCH CONDITIONS TO WIN LEAGUE TWO CLASH
Elgin City 3 Cove Rangers 0
Ladbrokes League Two
Saturday February 8, 2020
At Borough Briggs
COVE Rangers paid the price for failing to cope with the windy conditions and bumpy pitch at Borough Briggs as Elgin City grabbed victory in their Ladbrokes League Two encounter.
The loss of skipper Mitch Megginson, to an injury suffered in the pre-match warm-up, certainly didn’t help.
But it was the howling gale sweeping down the length of the park that did most to stop Cove performing as we all know they can - and help Elgin find themselves with a comfortable 3-0 lead early in the second half.
Cove keeper Stuart McKenzie also had to make several top class saves in the first period to stop things getting even worse.
Cove rallied a little in the second period and forced Elgin keeper Thomas McHale to make some great saves too, but they had left themselves with far too much to do.
Top scorer Megginson had to be replaced by youngster Josh Mulligan.
Fraser Fyvie returned after missing the previous week’s 2-2 draw away to Albion Rovers and there was also a first start for former Annan Athletic midfielder Broque Watson.
Cove began the match facing the howling gale and also the glare of the sun and the conditions clearly contributed to Elgin taking the lead after just two minutes.
Ryan Strachan didn’t connect properly with a header as the ball swirled about but things got even worse when Scott Ross totally miss hit his attempt to knock the ball back to keeper McKenzie.
That allowed Kane HESTER to nip in and calmly finish with a well placed shot from the edge of the Cove area.
Cove responded with Jamie Masson sending a free-kick over from the left for Rory McAllister to knock a 14 yard header wide.
The conditions made it impossible to play the sort of passing game Cove are used to and they also had to rely on a series of excellent saves from keeper McKenzie to keep them in contention.
The first was in the 11th minute, when he dived to stop a powerful drive by Matthew Cooper. Hester should have done better than knock the rebound wide.
McKenzie excelled again three minutes later when he dived full length to hold a powerful 18 yard shot from Daniel MacKay.
The Cove keeper made it a hat-trick of quality stops by the 20th minute, when he beat away another goal bound effort from MacKay with his feet.
Cove were finding it hard to get forward against the wind, although Fyvie wasn’t too far wide of the target with his 25 yard shot.
Cove’s hopes of recovery were dented further when Elgin went two up in the 22nd minute.
Connor O’Keefe crossed the ball in from the right and Stephen BRONSKY was given far too much space to direct a header home from 14 yards.
McKenzie was called into action again just before the half hour when he dived to hold a toe-poke from Hester.
Cove’s keeper continued the heroics with yet another fine save in the 37th minute.
This time McKenzie dived full length to keep out a long range shot from Shane Sutherland.
Cove’s best chance in the first half came in the 41st minute, when Masson’s curling effort from the edge of the area was kept out by a full length save from McHale.
Hopes of Cove taking advantage of the wind being at their backs in the second period plummeted when they conceded a third goal only a minute into the half.
Mackay’s cross from wide on the right appeared to get caught up in the wind and when the ball finally dropped Rory MACEWAN nipped in to head it beyond McKenzie from around 10 yards.
Cove peppered the Elgin goal from that point on but could find no way past the busy McHale.
The first of his series of saves was after Masson laid the ball off to Fyvie and he hammered in a low shot from 18 yards.
Cove substitute John Robertson also saw his shot from the edge of the area held by McHale.
Cove kept pushing and McAllister did well to nod the ball on to Robertson but McHale was well positioned to hold the striker’s 20 yard shot.
Cove had a strong penalty appeal turned away in the 75th minute, when Broque Watson’s cross from the right appeared to be handled by a home defender.
Referee Calum Scott chose to only award a corner to Cove.
Masson took it and his cross found Fyvie beyond the far post but his first time volley went off target.
Cove laid siege to the Elgin goal in the final few minutes.
Blair Yule’s low shot forced yet another great diving save out of McHale in the 89th minute.
Masson then saw his curling effort from the edge of the area just clear the Elgin crossbar.
In the second minute of injury-time it was Daniel Higgins’ turn to see a net bound shot saved by McHale.
The match ended with a Masson free-kick also being stopped by McHale, which underlined just how much it simply wasn’t Cove’s day.
ELGIN CITY: McHale, Cooper, MacPhee, Graham, Bronsky, MacEwan, MacKay (Omar 59), Cameron, Hester, Sutherland (Osadolor 81), O’Keefe (Dingwall 77).
Subs: Sopel, Wilson, Spark, Kelly.
COVE RANGERS: McKenzie, Yule, Milne, Ross, Strachan, Watson, Fyvie (Higgins 53), Scully, Masson, McAllister, Mulligan (Robertson 53).
Subs: Leighton, Brown, Redman, McCafferty.
Referee: Calum Scott.
TRUE BLUES: Some of the Cove Rangers fans arriving at Elgin rail station for today's league clash at Borough Briggs.